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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Flu virus behind infant pneumonia in poor countries

Influenza may be a surprisingly important player in childhood pneumonia deaths in developing countries, a study has found. Until recently, influenza has not been considered very seriously in developing countries, which have many pressing health problems. Surveillance of the virus, so well-established in the West, is poor in these regions. A study led by Johns Hopkins University has found that pneumonia is the leading cause of death in under-fives worldwide- in poor countries more than one-fifth of childhood mortality is attributed to the disease.

I have just been looking at some data from Arusha Municipality in northern Tanzania which show that out of 259 infant deaths in 2008, 159 (61%) were caused by pneumonia. Infant deaths attributable to malaria were 60 (23%). This seems to me like a classical case of a neglected disease.

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